It’s common knowledge among business owners – regardless of industry – that one of the best ways to win over potential clients is through video testimonials.
Whether they show past clients highlighting their experience working with you or outlining the results you generated for them, video testimonials go a long way in building trust, establishing your authority, and ultimately showing your ideal clients that you’re a good fit for them.
Where it gets tricky is when you initially ask clients, “Can you shoot me a video testimonial?” After all, the biggest benefits in this case serve you, not them in any way.
To get around that, we’re chatting with Christian Napier, the CEO of the video software app Rakonto.
As Christian explains it, the most impactful testimonials come from capturing a client’s story and how you fit into it. Even if their answers reflect well on you, mastering the initial testimonials “ask” so it’s focused on them is paramount.
In this episode, he explains how you can make that happen and translate the results of those testimonials into better presentations, higher sales, and more.
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✅ Check out Rakonto here: https://www.rakonto.io/
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Intro: You know those moments when you’re doing what you love in your business, maybe it’s standing onstage or creating content, whatever it is, you’re totally immersed, and time just seems to slip by? This is called the flow state. At Speaker Flow, we’re obsessed with how to get you there more often. Each week we’re joined by a new expert where we share stories, strategies, and systems to help craft a business you love. Welcome to Technically Speaking.
Austin: All right, we are live. Christian, welcome to the show, man. So good to have you.
Christian: Oh, it’s a pleasure to be here with you, Austin and Taylorr. I’m honored by the invitation.
Austin: Oh, man, the Honor is all ours, my friend.
Taylorr: For sure.
Austin: I can promise you that much. So, yeah, we’ve been really excited about this episode. For the listeners that don’t have this background, Christian and I, actually, go way back to when I was a toddler.
Taylorr: Such a good story.
Austin: And he was living down the street from me, were friends with my family and I grew up with his kids and we had almost no contact for a decade and then just happened to run into each other in a professional setting. And it really was one of those indicators to me that the ism that it’s a small world is very true, because it is; I cannot believe that I came across you that day.
Christian: It was a shock. I remember that day, I think it was September of last year and you were doing a Speaker Flow webinar with the National Speakers Association, Mountain West Chapter, and you’ve been involved with this industry for a while and I’m just recently coming into this speaker industry and someone said, you should check out these Speaker Flow guys, what they’re doing is interesting. So, I thought, I’m going to just dial into the webinar and see what’s going on. And here’s this guy with a beer, but his name, at the bottom of the Zoom, in the lower left corner says, Austin Grammon. I’m like, Austin; there can’t be that many Austin Grammons. Is that the Austin Graman? It is the Austin Grammon.
Taylorr: The Austin Grammon.
Christian: Yeah. And I felt a bit like a proud papa. I was like, wow, look at what Austin has done. Look at what he’s created. And then you introduced me to Taylorr and we met at, what’s it called, CSPCPAE Summit?
Christian: In December, last month. And, yeah, so I’m super grateful to be here today and personally very, very proud of you, Austin and Taylorr for what you’ve built to help speakers.
Taylorr: Thank you.
Austin: Well, thank you. It means a lot. Yeah. It’s so cool that we were able to, sort of, join forces here. So, I found your background fascinating. You’ve had a very long career doing something that’s tangential to what Rakonto has become, and so I’m wondering if, maybe, you could start with some of the stories that you’ve told me, Christian, specifically about the work that you’ve done with the Olympics and how that, sort of, built your love for story. And, maybe, I’ll just leave it at that, because it’s such a great story. But can you, kind of, unpack that for our listeners?
Christian: Well, of course, very long career is a very nice way to say you’re a really old person.
Austin: Hey, your words not mine.
Christian: So, of course, I am, because you were playing with my children, right? But it started in the nineties when technology was really coming to the fore; the older people will remember the Y2K phenomenon and everybody trying to replace their legacy systems. And that really got me into technology and a focus on the knowledge and learning side of things, as I was working in that particular area, I ran a corporate training department for a software company and then got involved in the Y2K thing.
Then in the year 2000, once Y2K seemed to be pretty much solved, I hopped over to the Olympic world and brought my services there, starting with the Salt Lake 2002 games and maintained focus, kind of, on the workforce knowledge and learning side of things, which eventually led me to working with the international committee as their knowledge management advisor. And we were looking at what we were doing in the Olympic movement to help harvest knowledge from host cities and share that knowledge with future hosts. And there was a gap.
And that gap was the contextual knowledge that is shared, because we’re sharing a lot of documents and there are a lot of formal presentations and observation opportunities, et cetera. But there really wasn’t a mechanism to share context at scale, like the lessons learned, the advice you would give, et cetera. And so, we began this project, which we called the Structured Interview Project with the IOC, where we interviewed the boots on the ground, kind of, people, the guy that ran food and beverage, the guy that ran accommodation, the woman that ran security or technology, et cetera.
And we started capturing the stories of these people organizing the games, and it was fascinating, to me, to go through that process and it awakened in me a desire to, actually, capture my own family’s story, because I had never done that. And so, I interviewed my mother and then I interviewed my uncle. And as I went through that process, I felt there was a lack of tools to really present that content in a way that honored it and present it together to combine the video and the audio and the transcriptions and the photos and other files and documents and links to ancestors and so on and so forth.
And so, that was the genesis of Rakonto, Rakonto mean story in Esperanto. And the concept of Esperanto as a language, which was invented in the 19th century, was to be a universal language that brought everybody together. And stories, I feel, really do that; they help build community connection and understanding. So, fast forward to March of 2022, we’re finally ready to launch Rakonto to the public, and so we hold a virtual presentation at a genealogy and family history conference. And one of the attendees happened to be a professional speaker, and after the presentation was over, he reached out to me and said, Christian, this software’s amazing, but I’m wondering if I could use this to get video testimonials for my business.
Of course, that wasn’t on my radar at all. And professional speakers, I didn’t even know that was a thing. Professional speakers, what is that? So, he introduced me to the National Speakers Association chapter here in Salt Lake City, so the Mountain West chapter. And I attended and I was like, wow, this is a really interesting group of people. I learned a lot in that meeting and I wasn’t even a speaker. I thought, oh, this is super helpful to the point where I, actually, joined the chapter, not being a speaker, but I just felt like I was learning and getting a lot of value out of being a member. And as I was having conversations, my friend and others who were there, they started thinking, well, what do you think about, actually, marketing your solution to speakers?
And so, we decided we were going to go ahead and do that and Rakonto for speakers was born in the summer of 2022. And now here we are in 2023, early in the year, having a conversation about Rakonto with people who specialize in this speaker industry, and that’s you guys.
Austin: Man, it’s such a cool journey. We hear so often from people on this show and just those that we interact with, that people stumble into this space. Taylorr, have you ever heard a single person say like, oh, yeah, I was absolutely destined.
Taylorr: I grew up.
Austin: Never once has somebody said they were planning on doing this their whole lives. And you definitely fit that category, you stumbled into it just like everybody else, us included; so there’s some solidarity in that, I think, between us. And it’s a weird bunch of people, you said a cool group of people or something in the NSA, and I would agree with that and I would also modify that with the word weird. It’s a strange industry.
Taylorr: A different world.
Austin: It’s awesome. It’s amazing, there’s nothing else like it, but it is very strange.
Taylorr: Yeah, definitely.
Christian: What I like about it, Austin and Taylorr, is that you are working with people who come from all different walks of life, but they feel a sense of purpose, like they have a mission, you know? And I like that because I feel like everything in my life has led to this moment here. I feel that every person’s important and their stories matter and they deserve to be preserved and shared. I feel some sense of comradery with the speakers who also have some, kind of, mission where they feel like they have to get this out to the world. Something happened to them that’s had an impact on them, and they feel like they need to do what they’re doing so that they can make a difference in somebody’s lives.
And so, I totally align with that idea, with that notion of being purpose-driven. And I think that’s one of the things that really attracts me to the professional speakers, is they are very purpose-driven, and you guys know a lot more about the industry than I do, in terms of the metrics and stuff. On average, they’re not making a lot of money doing it, so if they’re not primarily driven by the almighty dollar then why are they doing it? And they’re doing it because they just feel this need, this drive, this inner passion to go make a difference wherever they can. And that really brings them the satisfaction that they feel. And I feel the same way.
Taylorr: Yeah. That’s why we fell in love with it too. We were doing, basically, marketing as a professional service for lots of different industries, and it’s very extrinsically motivating, you make money, you want to make more money. And there wasn’t a lot of passion there for us, and we stumbled into the professional speaking and thought leadership world. It’s like, wow, these people are incredibly intrinsically motivated and there’s change that they want to make to happen in the world, and they want to share stories and change lives and impact people. And, yeah, I haven’t found anything more beautiful than that, quite honestly.
Austin: And I totally agree with you. It’s, kind of, fun for us too, because we’re purpose-driven in the way that we know the skillset that we have can provide lots of value to the world, but Taylorr and I, neither of us are those that want to get up on stage and tell our story to the world, at least not at this point in our lives, you know? But we still feel like we can have an impact on the world, as a whole, by giving these people a greater likelihood of their platform expanding so that they can touch more people and change the world, you know? Do you feel that way too?
Christian: Yes, I do. Because these people are, it’s a relatively small group of people, but they have a large outreach, right? They’re connected in their spheres of influence. And I use that term, influence, purposefully because they do have influence, not like the typical social media influencer, but, as you said, it’s really about the thought and ideas that they can share with people that can make a difference in people’s lives.
Christian: And the storytelling aspect, I think, of it is really, really important. And where you come in is you provide tools for them to be able to share that effectively and help the speakers generate income from doing that by putting in these processes, procedures, and systems and tools, where they can really get their message out to people and then have those people respond positively and in some cases monetarily. By subscribing to a course or signing up for an event or whatever it is.
Taylorr: Yeah, definitely.
Christian: And what we’ve realized is there are a lot of solutions on the market to help them do that. There aren’t as many solutions on the market for their audience to, actually, come back and share stories with them. You can do little surveys and things like that, and I think that’s all good and we’re not in that space, but if you want somebody to share an experience of how you impacted them, how do they do that?
Well, they can leave a Google review or they can type something in a survey or something, but, usually, those are fairly brief, unless the person just loves writing and they’ll write a big, long thing. But we found that it’s natural for people to just want to talk, because that’s how we’ve communicated since we were little tiny things, so we started speaking. And so, providing a platform for people to share how you’ve impacted them, what they’ve learned through video, it’s natural now.
Taylorr: Yeah, definitely. Technology has certainly aided that, which is great. I’m curious, though, what’s the method in which somebody requests that video testimonial from somebody, right? So, let’s say they have Rakonto and now they want to try and get those testimonials from people, what are the most successful users, speakers of the platform doing to capture those testimonials? Do they just send them a link? Is it, kind of, live at the event? What’s the process they follow to get those?
Christian: So, that’s a great question. And I will preface my response by saying that, that process is fluid. And we are learning as we go, what are the best approaches to do it? The underlying technology allows a speaker to generate a link or a QR code, and that QR code can be scanned by people who can then, through their phones or their desktops, record audio or video in response to a question that the speaker might have. The most common question is what was the most impactful thing that you learned here in my workshop today? Kind of question.
In terms of how that QR code or link is presented to the client, that varies. We have seen for virtual presentations, actually, very successfully, people displaying the QR code at the end of the presentation and having people scan it, or even during the presentation and giving people a couple of minutes to just, kind of, mute their cameras on their desktops and then scan this QR code with their phone and answer that question, what have I learned today?
In a live setting, some people are able to pull that off, they’re able to say, as they’re delivering their keynote or they’re delivering their presentation, folks scan this thing, just give me 30 seconds. Just scan it and tell me what’s the most impactful thing that you learned here today? The challenge is that sometimes audience members may be seated in some, kind of, configuration that may not be conducive to just recording something on the spot, and so they may want to take it with them. Inevitably, that lightning in a bottle moment might fade as they walk away, and then they record something, so your response rates may be lower.
Now, what we discovered, as you saw at the CSPCPAE Summit, we asked questions from the National Speakers Association, so instead of doing what we did at influence, where we just displayed a QR code at the back, and for N.S.A., they displayed the QR code and had people provide feedback. What N.S.A. decided to do this time is Jamie got up in front of everybody in that Saturday morning session and said, hey, we want to ask you a question, what three pieces of advice would you give to aspiring professional speakers? So, go over to that Rakonto booth and answer that question.
And that drove a huge amount of traffic to our booth, which was nice. But more importantly, out of the 90 some odd people that were attending, we had 48 submissions. That was a fantastic response rate. And out of the submissions, around 20 of them had really great things to say about National Speakers Association. So, this, actually, raised a valuable point for us, which is, if you as a speaker want to get a lot of engagement, and you want people to record stuff, you don’t have to be super pointed in the question.
You don’t have to ask, specifically, for a testimonial, you can do that, there’s no problem. But give somebody a question that they actually want to answer. In this case, the speakers that were attending that summit, they wanted to answer that question; they are naturally inclined to share their advice with people. That’s how they are. And so, they came to the booth and they recorded the response to the question, and it just happened that 20 of them gave glowing recommendations to National Speakers Association. And we didn’t even ask the question about National Speakers Association, they just said it anyway, because that’s what they were feeling.
And so, I think there are some interesting opportunities for speakers to engage with their audience members or their clients in creative ways by giving them questions that they think the audience is going to want to answer, right? So, instead of the typical survey question of, well, can you give me feedback or on a scale of one to 10, how would you rate my thing? Why don’t you ask a question that somebody actually wants to answer? And that’s going to vary by audience.
But my key recommendation is if you really want to use this technology effectively, you want to leverage it, you want to get a lot of engagement from your clients or your audience members, then ask them questions that they really want to answer, that they want to share with you. And who knows what that might be. It might be, well, what was the most significant challenge that you had to overcome in order to do what you’re doing now? Or if I’m speaking to a group of real estate professionals, I might want to ask them their views on the real estate industry or something, or we’re at the beginning of 2023.
So, okay, what do you intend to do in 2023 that’s going to make a real difference in your business? Well, maybe that’s a question that I want to answer. So, anyway, this is a very long-winded response to your question, so I apologize for that. But I think if we just parse it into its individual components, number one, the technology allows you to generate QR codes and links that can be shared with 1, 50, a hundred, a thousand or 10,000 people at a time. Number two, the strategy to get the maximum response rate from people, really, is understanding your audience and what they want to talk to you about, or what would they want to share with people who are in my tribe that could benefit.
So, we learned that that was a big lesson learned from the December conference, we’re looking to do some really interesting things at Thrive, kind of expanding on that concept. And those would be my big takeaways.
Taylorr: Oh, I love that.
Austin: Same here.
Taylorr: You brought up something I didn’t even have in mind, right? It’s like, all right, Hey, Mr. Decision-Maker; can you leave a testimonial for me and off on your merry way? But, no, you can, obviously, expand that, boost the engagement, get a higher response rate by making it about them and having them answer a question that chances are naturally would include recommendations or glowing reviews of what you just accomplished onstage.
Christian: And from the speaker’s perspective, what I’ve heard a lot, and you guys know a lot more about this than I do, you have speakers that may deliver a number of engagements at lower fees, or even no fees, right? And we’ve heard advice from other speakers say, if you’re given an opportunity to do a no-fee engagement, then try to extract the value of that engagement from whoever’s organizing the event. So, one thing that’s often mentioned is can they provide a camera crew or can they go in and get testimonials? And if that is a strategy that you wish to employ, I think it’s fantastic.
You can amplify the meeting organizer’s support by, actually, having someone on their crew with a phone and running around and capturing these with the QR code, just like we were doing at Summit. And it may be that the organizer even sets up a small space where that can be done and people can be directed to share their experiences or their stories there. And, again, if you ask a compelling question, people will line up to answer it. We saw that at Summit, and I think that could be replicated for any speaker is asking for that, kind of, support. Because we found that some people want to scan the QR code and go back to their hotel room and answer it on their own, but others, they just want to record it right then and there.
And so, if you help them, if you’ve just got somebody there that will help them, if the event organizer has a resource that they can provide that can help do that, then take advantage of it, it doesn’t hurt to ask
Austin: A hundred percent. Well, we know that anytime we can remove friction from the process that we’re asking somebody to go through, then they’re going to be more likely to do it, so that’s a really important note. Something that I really like about what you just described too, is two-fold, actually. For one, if you don’t just make the ask about you, meaning the speaker, the person onstage, or whatever it is that you’re doing, where this could be relevant; it can, actually, be a value add, which can help you sell stuff. Meaning like, now you’re not just going to get up on stage and present, but you’re going to give the audience members an interactive way to share what they’ve learned and, maybe, even distribute that amongst the attendees so they get additional value after the event is even over.
It’s more than just you being able to capture information for yourself; it can be done in a way where you’re benefiting the client even more than just delivering the content itself. The other thing, I think that’s important here is that this conjures the law of reciprocity, right? If you’re creating value, then people just inherently want to be able to provide value back. And I’m sure that’s a big reason why you experienced what you did with the National Speakers Association at Summit, because you were there to provide value for the members by creating these series of videos that can help new speakers do even better with their journey as they grow their business.
But you’re also pitching it in a way where they want to give accolades to the National Speakers Association, and so without even asking, they’re giving you what you want because of that law of reciprocity. And I also think that feels better as the person making the ask, right? Because now it’s not just gives me value, it creates value for everyone and then that inherently will also create value for you because of the law of reciprocity.
Christian: I think those two points are really astute. Coming back to that point of removing friction, you might say, oh, well, I could ask the meeting organizer to run around with a camera crew or run around with their phone and go ahead and record these testimonials, or get feedback or whatever. The challenge there is that, okay, well then what? All right, well, then I have to figure out how does that guy or person or girl get those videos off their phone to me? Sometimes they send them, and they’re compressed and they’re really small, and then you like, oh, well, who was that person?
And we get consent from them to, actually, use the recording. Where in Rakonto, that’s all built into the flow, they record something, even if it’s a meeting organizer running around with a phone, if they’re using it with Rakonto, then after they’ve recorded something, it’s like, oh, it’s asking for the person’s name and an email address. I hand my phone over to the person, Hey, would you put your name and email address in here? This gives Austin the ability to, actually, use this recording and contact you? Okay. I’ve never found anybody that said no, after they’ve recorded something, I’m not going to consent to it. It’s like they wouldn’t record anything in the first place.
So, you’ve removed those things from the bottleneck and the recordings are already coming to you, already with the consent embedded in there. And to your point about adding value, it provides a really interesting way for you to maximize the power of your mailing list. What are we doing right now? We’re just sending out a bunch of stuff, it’s good stuff. We’ve spent hours and hours creating this stuff; we’re sending it out to a lot of people with a call to action. Usually that call to action is, subscribe for this, sign up for my course, buy my book, schedule my next event, whatever it is that we want them to do.
If you have 10,000 people in your mail list, why don’t you send them a question that they want to answer? Then you get all of that feedback with the consent that allows you to repurpose that content and use it in any number of ways. So, it’s a tremendous opportunity that really hasn’t been thoroughly thought through, but you’ve introduced the nugget there, Austin and Taylorr, and I think there’s a lot of power in doing that and getting people to share stories that they want to share, getting those back, and then being able to use that content to provide even more value to them and their peers.